By JOEL McNEECE
A local non-profit organization called “Calhoun Cares” has been established to provide assistance for local cancer victims with various expenses. Priscilla Melton, who is in the midst of her own battle with the disease, founded the organization citing the need at the local level.
“I really enjoyed Relay for Life last year and was ecstatic when we passed our goal for the year,” said Melton, who served as the event’s chairperson. “This year, I had more people agree to come aboard and they brought renewed energy and ideas.”
Then Melton began receiving “negative” feedback from Calhoun countians about the inability to obtain assistance from the American Cancer Society (ACS).
“I thought surely they were wrong and maybe hadn’t contacted the right people for assistance,” Melton said. “I still moved forward building Relay up and assuring people they would at least assist with travel vouchers to cover gas expenses.”
When Melton called ACS to seek a gas voucher for a friend, she was told there were no funds available.
“I had to say, ‘excuse me?’ to the lady answering the phone,” Melton said. “I told her that I was Event Chair for Relay for Life and I knew that our county alone raised over $60,000 this past year and asked her to explain to me how there was no money. She directed me to have my friend call because they needed information regarding the name of the doctor, the diagnosis, and other things I would not be able to provide. From there, my friend made the call and was told they would apply for it, but they were doubtful that it would be available.”
“I realize that the American Cancer Society is supporting research, but according to their financial statement online, there is quite a bit budgeted for assistance to patients,” Melton said. “I don’t know exactly what area gets this, but I do know it is not in our area.”
Melton, who is currently undergoing chemo for a second time after first being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009, said the experience led her to establish “Calhoun Cares.”
Melton has already gained a lot of support for the new organization, which has set a fundraiser for Saturday, Oct. 8 at the multi-purpose building in Pittsboro – a Gospel singing that will begin at 6:30 p.m. with spaghetti plates available at 5 p.m. They will also be sponsoring a roadblock in Bruce this Saturday to collect donations and participating in a harvest festival in Abbeville.
“I feel that the citizens of Calhoun County have been more than generous with Relay for Life so I know without a doubt they will be supportive of this,” Melton said.
The assistance provided by Calhoun Cares will be in three areas – travel, cancer related medication, and utility assistance. Melton said they also hope to provide information on other assistance available through other agencies.